Ontario Municipal Board approves new Regional Official Plan

Posted on Thursday June 18, 2015

Waterloo Region – The Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) issued an oral decision today, approving a new Regional Official Plan (ROP) for Waterloo Region.

In 2009, Regional Council adopted a new Regional Official Plan that guides future growth in Waterloo Region to the year 2031. The new ROP provides for more compact development, greater protection of the environment, improved integration of transit, and the creation of new strategic employment lands. In 2011, a number of parties appealed various portions of the ROP to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), primarily seeking more land to be designated for new urban development. The Region recommended that up to 85 hectares of land be designated for new development, while the group of appellants proposed 1,053 hectares to be added.

In an effort to resolve the uncertainty associated with hearings and litigation, the Region worked with the appellants toward a collaborative settlement.

The OMB approval today provides for the immediate designation of 257 hectares of ‎additional land for urban development (rather than the appellants’ proposed 1,053 hectares). Many of these new development areas are a rounding out of existing development areas, and includes areas that were expected to be added as part of the Regional Growth Management Strategy (approved by Regional Council in 2003). In addition, approximately 200 hectares of land will be given Regional urban land designation between 2016 and 2019 to meet higher Provincial growth forecasts developed for Waterloo Region since the ROP was approved in 2009. A number of conditions and requirements (including Area Municipal approvals) will also need to be met before these areas are development ready.

“This settlement, now approved by the OMB, clearly anchors the community’s vision for the future in the new Regional Official Plan,” said Regional Chair Ken Seiling. “We are extremely pleased with this decision and I want to thank Regional Council and Regional staff for all their efforts to achieve this outcome.”

The approved Regional Official Plan reflects the following key elements:

• Countryside line: A new countryside line will establish a long-term development boundary.

• Groundwater and broader environmental protection: Protected Countryside and Regional Recharge areas will further protect groundwater sources and other environmental features.

• New employment lands: The East Side lands prime industrial strategic reserve designation will be completed for lands in north Cambridge, creating new opportunities for business relocation or to attract new business.

• Transit: Public transit policies will be more fully integrated with development policies, especially in the ION corridor.

• Economic vitality: Policies to support the economy have been enhanced.

• Rural prosperity: Rural assets, including prime agricultural lands and rural communities, will continue to be protected and supported.

Restrictions on aggregate extraction: Protection of significant woodlands from aggregate extraction, and restrictions on aggregate extraction in environmentally sensitive areas.

In addition, as part of the settlement, the Region’s land budget methodology will be used by the applicable settling parties in the future to calculate the amount of agricultural land that can be converted to urban development.


For further information, please contact:

Rob Horne, Commissioner, Planning, Development and Legislative Services, 519-575-4001

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